Bernard Tan, CEO of ReCactus

Bernard Tan created ReCactus, a social platform which allows users to record, watch, connect and share commentary on different video content.
What’s your story?
I’m a 3rd-culture kid from Australia. I grew up appreciating Malaysian Laksa from Dad, Hong Kong Har-Gau from Mum and good-ole Aussie meat-pies from school. Hence, I’ve always been rather confused about my identity, never having felt truly at home anywhere. With a deep sense of ‘fernweh,’ I decided to embark overseas, like my parents, on a journey to find home.
As a designer, I’ve worked around the world, from America, Europe, Australia to Asia, for companies like Apple in Silicon Valley, to Audi in Frankfurt, Germany. During my years of solo travel, I gained some insight about human connection and how we make sense of the world through our peer reactions. I imagined a social platform that could connect people globally over the most current viral video. With that, ReCactus was born, a social platform based on our reactions. I consider reactions, the natural evolution of the old-fashioned like and comment.
What excites you most about your industry?
The digital world is kind of like the Wild-West. To start a business you used to have an entry barrier, but now, even a child can create a successful app and release it within a few months spending little on resources.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My exposure to Asia always felt a little second-hand, either through my parents or what I saw in Western media. I wanted to discover Asia for myself. To my pleasant surprise, I was welcomed with open arms immediately. The startup scene here is growing fiercely, and people are incredibly generous in supporting each other. It’s also where I found my co-founder!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Taipei is a big-city girl with a small-town heart. I’ve travelled the world, but I can’t think of another city that equals in its warmth. We’ve had so many larger companies that have mentored our start-up, happily offering their time, office space, and advice. For that, we’re incredibly grateful.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be brilliant when you enter, and when you exit, leave your ego at the door.
Who inspires you?
Different people inspire different aspects and different stages of my life; from Bruce Lee to Banksy, I admire the resilient. In business, I’m inspired by Elon Musk. His vision for the future, desire to change the world and the way he treats his employees are all very worthy of admiration.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Did you know the Monopoly man NEVER had a monocle? My whole life has been a lie.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t have asked my mum to drop me out of Chinese school as a kid! I was young, impatient and foolish. However, I’ve found learning Mandarin as an adult is somewhat endearing to the native speaker. To return the love, it’s made me quite defensive when someone mocks an Asian person who isn’t very good at English.
How do you unwind?
I take photos, write and collect foreign words with no English equivalent. ‘Hiraeth’ is a Welsh word that means “Homesickness for a home which maybe never was.” Can you imagine that centuries ago, someone had a feeling so inundating that they had to give it a label? And centuries later, a young man traversing the globe would stumble upon it, realising that this feeling he has carried all his life actually had a name! Connection that transcends time, space and language. I can think of nothing more romantic.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love getting lost and becoming anonymous in big cities. Speaking to locals, learning the culture. For that, I choose Osaka.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Lao Tzu’s Tao Te King. It may sound like an odd choice, but I use it to stay calm amidst tumultuous times, insightful of human desires, letting go of what cannot be controlled, but sensitive to small behavioural changes in the market. Ancient wisdom doesn’t grow stale because human nature hasn’t evolved very far.
Shameless plug for your business:
ReCactus is a social media platform for Reaction Videos! Think of us like the Instagram for reactions! Record, watch, connect and share, all in one app! React and respond with your commentary on different video content, from Donald Trump to new movie trailers! Download ReCactus from the App Store today and find out why everyone is talking about ReCactus!
Find out more at

How can people connect with you?
My personal design site:
Twitter handle?

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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